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Not a First Language but one Repertoire: Translanguaging as a Decolonizing Project

Wei, Li; García, Ofelia; (2022) Not a First Language but one Repertoire: Translanguaging as a Decolonizing Project. RELC Journal 10.1177/00336882221092841. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Translanguaging has opened up spaces to recognize the dynamic multilingualism of students in classrooms taught in dominant languages, and problematized concepts such as ‘additive bilingualism’. This article aims to further explore two issues that remain little understood. First, translanguaging is often seen as simply the acknowledgement or use of multilingual students’ ‘first language’. This article clarifies that this is a misunderstanding, for the trans- in translanguaging connotes the transcendence of named languages, the going beyond named languages as have been socially constructed. Second, in going beyond named languages, translanguaging is also intended as a decolonizing project, revealing how bilinguals inhabit a world with different knowledge bases and linguistic/cultural practices. We use two bilingual students, in London and New York City respectively, to show how they are viewed and listened to by their teachers as bilinguals with two ‘incomplete’ linguistic systems because each element in their language/semiotic repertoire is seen as a separate entity. We then weave all the elements together to provide a fuller picture of these students. In doing so, we reject raciolinguistic ideologies that have enregistered them as deficient and instead regard them through a translanguaging lens. The article emphasizes the importance of understanding translanguaging as a unitary repertoire, as well as its decolonial potential in education as teachers abandon the focus on named standardized languages and engage fully with their students’ full repertoire of features and meanings.

Type: Article
Title: Not a First Language but one Repertoire: Translanguaging as a Decolonizing Project
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/00336882221092841
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1177/00336882221092841
Language: English
Additional information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: translanguaging, bilingual learner, repertoire, decolonizing, academic language
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Culture, Communication and Media
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10147398
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